Forum Index > Trip Reports > A windswept Dolly Sods, West Virginia (Jan 27, 2019)
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



Joined: 10 Dec 2007
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GaliWalker
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Have camera will use
PostMon Jan 28, 2019 7:59 pm 
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Dolly Sods, West Virginia (Jan 27, 2019)

Looking for a relatively straightforward hike in these challenging winter months, I selected the western rim of the Dolly Sods plateau as my destination. This features sweeping views and cool rock formations. The windswept high reaches often feature inclement weather, so I mentally prepared myself for anything.

After a snowy drive, I parked the car 1.5mi up Freeland Road, where it transitioned to Forest Road 80. I could have driven further up, since the snow cover was only about an inch or two, but decided not to risk it. I wasn't planning to hike a lot of miles and had plenty of time. Within the first half mile of the road walk, the snow had begun to cover a thin, but solid layer of ice. 2mi in, as I approached end of the road, still a mile shy of the official Blackbird Knob Trailhead, I put on my microspikes; the ice had become treacherous, and would remain so for the remainder of the hike. I had brought showshoes, since I hadn't known what to expect regarding snow depth, but these would remain unused and attached to my pack.

The temperature was in the mid-20s, but a strong wind and blowing snow made it feel much colder. A pretty red spruce forest provided some shelter, but as I exited this corridor, now on the Blackbird Knob, the wind and snow intensified.

1- Red spruce corridor (selfie; photo taken on return)
1- Red spruce corridor (selfie; photo taken on return)

In just a quarter mile or so I traded the Blackbird Knob Trail for the Rocky Ridge Trail, and spruce thickets gave way to open spaces. And now the wind really began to blast me. Sustained wind gusts of around 50mph flung snow and ice pellets into my face. My pack, laden with the useless snowshoes, began to give its best impression of a sail, tugging me off my feet whenever I failed to lean into the wind. At one point I startled a group of about a dozen deer, which must have been hunkered down in the snow, because they were plastered white with snow. I don't think I've ever seen such a large group of deer in Dolly Sods before, and definitely not one that was more white than brown.

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The last 1.5mi before my turnaround point was pure bliss. Although the wind kept howling like a banshee the snow was mostly spindrift from that which had already fallen; all very dramatic, but eminently tolerable. At times there was even the occasional hint of sunshine. Until this point I had mostly kept my camera in its case. Now I was able to bring it out, and just in time too, because I had begun to vend my way past all the amazing rock formations that give the Rocky Ridge Trail its name.

3- Spindrift
3- Spindrift
4- Crazy rock (selfie)
4- Crazy rock (selfie)

Snow and ice, crazy rock formations and sweeping views…nature at its dramatic best! I turned around, 6.3mi in, and retraced my steps to the car.

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8- Snow on ice
8- Snow on ice

Hiking stats: 12.6mi, ~1400ft elevation gain, 6.2hrs

On the way back I decided to check out Blackwater Falls, which was a study in ice and water.

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'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shahiddurrani/albums
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Gil
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Joined: 29 Sep 2004
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Gil
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PostWed Jan 30, 2019 6:17 am 
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Looks like a great winter trip.

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Friends help the miles go easier.
Klahini
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



Joined: 10 Dec 2007
Posts: 4063 | TRs
Location: Pittsburgh
GaliWalker
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Have camera will use
PostWed Jan 30, 2019 7:07 pm 
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Thanks, Gil. It was a nice hike, although I was hoping for more snow and less wind.

A couple more (selfie) shots:

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--------------
'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shahiddurrani/albums
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Bryan K
Shameless Peakbagger



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 5099 | TRs
Location: In the PNW
Bryan K
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PostTue Feb 05, 2019 9:26 pm 
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Looks good Gali!!!!!!

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www.youtube.com/bkraai | www.flickr.com/photos/bkraai/sets/
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